Bill to allow dogs in wineries and breweries takes effect in Virginia

Published: Feb. 26, 2018 at 2:57 PM EST
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UPDATE (July 1):

On July 1, House Bill 286 — passed nearly unanimously by the House of Delegates and Senate — took effect in Virginia.

The law allows companion animals inside tasting rooms and on the property of licensed wineries, breweries, and distilleries in Virginia.

While going to vineyards with dogs had been a pastime for many people, last year, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services began cracking down on a law many people didn't know existed, preventing any animal other than service animals from being inside tasting rooms.

After vineyards, like Bluestone Vineyard in Rockingham County, made public statements about the issue, Delegate John Bell penned a bill to change the law, and it passed this past spring.

Animals still are not allowed in any area where food is made for the purposes of health and safety.

Wineries, breweries, and distilleries do, however, maintain the right to bar pets from their properties.


The warmer weather is a reminder that people will soon be spending more time at wineries and breweries across Virginia, and now, their furry friends will be able to legally tag along.

In November, Bluestone Vineyard in Rockingham County

stating that they could no longer allow dogs in their tasting room, because the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was cracking down on enforcement of a prohibition against dogs in Virginia tasting rooms (except for service animals).

The guidelines, drafted as overall limits on animals in food and beverage establishments, were meant to keep dogs out of areas where wine is manufactured or sold.

But dogs are a large part of many vineyards — Bluestone even features a wine named after the vineyard's first dog, Beau. That led Bluestone to speak out about the enforcement of the policy, gaining attention of not only wine lovers, but


, sponsored by Del. John Bell, passed the House of Delegates with a 97-2 vote on January 30 and the Senate with a 38-0 vote on February 23.

Pending Gov. Ralph Northam's signature, it will allow companion animals inside and on the property of a licensed winery or farm winery, brewery, or distillery.

Most animals fall under that category, except for agricultural animals, game species or research animals. The animal has to be unlikely to result in contamination of food, food contact surfaces, or food packaging materials. Right now, only guide or guard dogs are allowed.

They cannot be in an area where food is made, though.

Tim Brady, founder and General Manager of Pale Fire Brewing, said dogs are a typical staple around the brewery.

"We see a lot of dogs at Pale Fire, especially because we have the outdoor patio, so they're always welcome, but it will be nice to have the option of letting them into the taproom if we like," said Brady.

The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2018. However, wineries and breweries will still be able to decide if they want dogs on their property.